Charity Commission
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Charity Commission raises housing bill concerns

Charity Commission raises housing bill concerns

CHARITY COMMISSION News Release (PR 04/08) issued by The Government News Network on 12 February 2008

The Charity Commission, the independent regulator for charities in England and Wales, has voiced concerns that proposals in the Housing and Regeneration Bill could have serious implications for charitable housing associations.

In a briefing to all members of the Bill Committee, and other MPs with an interest in housing, the Commission has expressed concerns that proposed changes could undermine the independence of charities and force them into activities which could ultimately lead to the loss of their charitable status.

Provisions in the Bill include establishing a new regulator which would have the power to set compulsory standards for providers of social housing. This could force a charity to engage in activity beyond its charitable objects, which would mean its purposes were no longer exclusively charitable and it could lose the financial and practical benefits of charitable status.

Rosie Chapman, Director for Policy and Effectiveness for the Charity Commission, said

"Independence is central to charitable status, and trustees must always be able to take decisions that are in the best interest of the charity and its beneficiaries. If proposals in the Bill undermine their ability to do this, it would have serious implications for charitable housing associations."

The Commission is already in contact with the Department of Communities and Local Government on the issue, to ensure that the legislation will allow the new regulator to be effective, whilst not threatening the independence or charitable status of charitable housing associations.

There are 1400 charitable Registered Social Landlords (housing associations) which make up two thirds of the social landlords registered with the Housing Corporation.

Notes to editors:

1. The MP briefing is available on the Commission's Parliamentary microsite at http://www.epolitix.com/EN/Forums/Charity+Commission/home.htm

2. The Charity Commission is the independent regulator for charitable activity in England and Wales. For more information see our website at http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk